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JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. NARRATIVE OF AN ATTEMPT TO ESTABLISH A MISSION AMONG THE CHIPPEWA IN- DIANS OF CANADA, BETWEEN THE YEARS 1800 AND 1806. COMPILED BY HENRY A. JACOBSON, A.M. During the last thirty years of the eighteenth century the Chippewas roamed through the forests which then cov- ered what is now the State of Michigan and the Province of Canada. They had nomadic habits ; during the winter they spent their time in hunting wild game or trapping muskrats ; in spring they boiled maple sugar ; the summer they passed in fishing along lakes Huron, St. Clair and Erie. Thus they never remained long at the same place, a fact that caused the Moravian authori- ties to hesitate for a long time before undertaking a mission among them. They were shiftless in many ways. Whenever game was scarce or when they had been unsuccessful in their hunting expeditions, they visited the settlements and danced before every house, at the same time begging for food ; this the white people called the "begging dance," and it was performed so often that the Chippewas were frequently called, both by whites and Indians, a "nation of beggars." When they had abundance of food, they feasted and made merry till it was all consumed. Yet they were fierce warriors ; brave, fearless, bold even to recklessness, they were the first to propose war, and the last to make peace. They were feared by all the other Indian tribes except the Tawas, with whom they were on friendly terms, and the Mingoes, whom they acknowledged to be their rivals in war. They lived usually in huts, though these were not very substantial, inasmuch as they were not occupied for any length of time. There was neither door nor floor ; a cloth hung before the entrance took the place of the former, and the ground was a sufficient substitute for the latter. Each hut was occupied by five or six families. The fire was built in the middle of the room, about which they took their positions in a circle, each man having his wife seated at his side ; the children were assigned places partly before, partly behind their parents. They were very uncleanly ; the parts of fish and animals not used as food were heaped up aside of their huts and left to decay there. They greased their bodies with fish oil, which soon emitted a rank odor. They dried their meat by hanging it on the rafters overhead. If the supply of food was abundant, and they desired to move elsewhere, they hid their provisions in holes dug in the ground. Rumors reached the ears of the missionaries that at cer- tain feasts they were not averse to eating human flesh, those captured in war being thus offered up. But, even if true, this could not have happened very frequently. They had been a very numerous tribe ; and even then their remnants embraced a larger number than any other tribe in that part of North America. These people often wandered into Ohio and there came into contact with the Moravian missionaries laboring in the Northern part of that territory. They seemed, however, more impressed by the prosperity of the Christian In- dians than by the teachings of the missionaries. The latter were therefore not disposed to accede to the fre- quent requests of the Chippewas that teachers should be sent among them. But after the Gnadenhuetten massa- cre, March 8, 1782, and the consequent temporary abandonment of all the mission stations in Ohio, John Heckewelder, with a faithful remnant from the settle- ments along the Muskingum, lived at New Gnaden- huetten on the Huron river,' about thirty miles North- west of Detroit, from 1782 to 1786, when he returned to Ohio. During these years, although the surrounding Chippewas were friendly, yet they seemed too indolent to interest themselves in the gospel message. Hecke- welder really considered his four years' stay in that country as a cruel exile. Zeisberger was with him most of the time, and often grieved over the carelessness and indifference of the Chippewas. About ten years later the good seed planted by these pioneers bore fruit ; for, in 1794 and in 1795, the Chippewas sent several urgent requests to the Mission Board at Bethlehem that a teacher should be appointed to reside among them. The Board at first doubted the wisdom of such a course ; but, finally, in 1797, upon the recommendation of David Zeisberger (then laboring at Goshen, Ohio), they re- solved to make the attempt."" Christian Frederick Denke was selected as the missionary who was to undertake this difficult enterprise, than whom no one better quali- ' Now the Clinton River. *'They may also have been influenced by a tradition that some Welsh adventurers had crossed the Atlantic and discovered America long before Columbus visited these shores ; but they had been captured by the Indians, and their descendants were at this time in captivity among the Chippewas. The basis for this legend may be found in another which may be nearer the truth, namely, that a black race called the Pani lived beyond the Mississippi who were often at war with their Indian neighbors. They were taken cap- tive by the Chippewas and their confederates in war, and most of them were sold to the white people. A considerable number settled in Detroit and the adjoining settlements, and a woman of that race was servant in the house of Mr. Matthew Dolson, who lived near Fairfield, Canada. Their complexion was usually as dark as that of the West India Negro, though some of them were almost white. They had perfect European features, were small in stature and had genteel habits. The missionaries frequently mention the presence among the Chippewas of these people who were not Indians, and who spoke a strange language. In his diaries Heckewelder speaks about them under the title of " Welsh Indians." fied could have been chosen. He was assisted in many ways by John Schnall, who was then laboring at Fair- field, Canada. Christian Frederick Denke was born at Bethlehem, September 8, 1775. He was the only son of Jeremias Denke, warden at Bethlehem, and Sarah, m.n. Test. When he was ten years old, he was sent to Nazareth Hall, being one of the first pupils there after its re-open- ing in 1785 by Carl Gotthold Reichel ; his first teachers were George G. Mueller and Ludwig Huebner. In 1796 he became a teacher in that institution, remaining till 1800. Bro. Reichel soon perceived Denke's earnest zeal for the Lord's cause, and in many ways aided in developing in him that earnest desire to labor in the Lord's vineyard which enabled him to render such effi- cient service in later years. Humble, sincere, a true child of God, Bro. Denke was ready to perform anything, however difiicult it might be, if thereby souls could be won for Christ. During his term of service at Nazareth Hall, he paid special attention to the study of Botany and Latin ; the former assisted him materially when he commenced his labors in the forests of Canada ; the latter was an equally suitable preparation lor his future employment. He was a good linguist, and few of the missionaries so thoroughly mastered the difficulties of the Indian dialects as he did. For several years he had taken deep interest in the labors of Zeisberger and Heckewelder ; and therefore he was much rejoiced when he received the call to begin a mission among the un- civilized and heathen Chippewas. At a solemn service held at 3 P.M. on Sunday, April 27, 1800, at Bethlehem, he was ordained by Bishop Ettwein as a Deacon of the Brethren's Church. The next day, in company with Bro. Heckewelder who was returning to Ohio, he set out for Goshen on the Muskingum, where he arrived about the middle of May. He applied himself diligently to the study of the Delaware language under the tuition of David Zeisberger, and within a few months he had mastered it so thoroughly that he was ready to start for Canada. He left Goshen on August 15, and reached Fairfield on the twenty ninth of the same month — a very quick trip in those days. [Fairfield was organized as a mission station in 1792.] In the spring of 1801 some Chippewas from the Southwest came to Fairfield and ex- pressed a desire that a teacher might live among them. Bro. Denke accordingly visited them in order to dis- cover whether they were sincere in making this request. He left Fairfield on June 25, accompanied hy the Dela- ■wares Joachim, Boas and Tobias ; his guide was a Chip- pewa who had been at Fairfield for some time ; the latter's wife (a baptized Delaware) also went with them. Denke was on horseback, for at that season of the year It was dangerous for one unacquainted with the country to travel on foot on account of the marshes and swamps through which the road passed. For the first ten miles they followed a trail which was barely visible and which led them through deep swamps and over fallen trees ; several times Denke's horse stuck fast in the swamp from which he was extricated with the greatest difficulty. His botanical studies were of use to him here; in his diary he states that the most numerous trees were the beech, black birch, linden, water and white ash, maples of various kinds, water and swamp oak, walnut, wild cherry, aspen, Lombardy poplar ; fewer in number were the white and blackoak, chestnut, very tall and thick tulip poplars ; but he did not find many sugar maples. Soon they came to a prairie where wild flowers abounded ; the ferns were so numerous that their thick roots were an obstacle to agriculture.^ By noon they reached the Schneyecarte (or Huron strait), which runs nearly par- 3 He also found a single hazel bush (corylus rostrata), which was a rarity iin those parts. 8 allel with the Thames and empties into Lake St. Clair.. Keeping along its banks, they soon arrived at the Indian^ settlement not far from Lake St. Clair. Thirty persons lived here, of whom ten were men ; but all except four had gone hunting. Their head chief was Nangi, a person of great influence among his people, who always evinced a friendly disposition towards our missionaries. He was not with them, and the subchief of this settlement was also away. The latter was seldom at home, and so the Indians were beginning to weaken in their allegiance to him. Upon invitation of those who had remained at the camp, Denke: occupied the chief's hut. The women soon prepared a meal for their visitors, after which the latter attempted to sleep. But it rained heavily, and they were much, annoyed by the presence of snakes and sand flies, so that they obtained little rest. After a breakfast of deer's head cooked with corn, they consulted with the men of the camp about their expressed desires that a teacher should live among them. Denke assured them first of all that he had not come to take possession of their lands or hunting grounds, but to tell them the good words of God, their Creator and Savior. The oldest of the Indians answered that they were very willing to allow a teacher to live among them, but they had no authority to decide such matters ; nor could their chief do this ; all such transactions must be submitted to the head chief Nangi. At the same time, they doubted whether it were worth while for Denke to trouble himself about them, for they were too wicked ; but he might teach their children to be better than they had been. This gave Denke an opportunity to proclaim the message of salvation to them with much earnestness. He spoke to them by means of his interpreter. Boas ;* for the Chippewa and Delaware: * Boas lived at New Salem in 1788, and there he and his mother were converted. He hacj previously been a very bad man. He spoke both Del- aware and Chippewa very fluently. languages were so unlike that Denke's knowledge of the latter was of little service to him. He then told his Delaware converts to describe to these heathen how im- proved their condition, as regards externals, was since a teacher had lived among them. The entire interview lasted three hours ; at the last, the Chippewas promised that they would renounce their heathen dances and similar ceremonies, stop their intemperate habits, and ask Nangi to assign a piece of ground for the mission dwelling. Then Denke returned to Fairfield. On July 1 1 he had an interview at Detroit with Nangi and eight head men of the Chippewa and Tawa (or Ot-tawa) tribes ;' Nangi willingly granted Denke's requests, and guaranteed him a plot of ground for the mission. On April 19, 1802, Denke went to Lake St. Clair in order again to confer with the Chippewas about the pro- posed mission station. But now he found them un- friendly, though they were willing to lead him to Nangi, who was camping near Pointe du Chene. After passing through the St. Clair ship canal, they reached the house of Mrs. Harsen, a widow, who later befriended Denke very materially. Nangi soon appeared and promised all possible assistance and encouragement. Meanwhile, though he was very fond of his rum, he would give orders that no liquor should be sold on the mission lands. The final assignment of a plot was made at a great council of the chiefs held on May 8, and the agreement was ratified by the gift of a double string of wampum.* Denke at once 5 The Tawas had always been more friendly to the Missionaries than the Chippewas ; they even protected the mission premises in Northern Ohio during some Indian disturbances. ' Zeisberger explains that the number of the strings of wampum indicated the several conditions of the agreement. The contract was completed by allowing the wampum to fall on the ground which was to be transferred, which the recipient then picked up, thus indicating his endorsement of the proposed conditions. The meaning attached to each string was known by lO cut down trees for his house and planted a few vege- tables. But on July 18 the Indians offered him another plot situated on an island not far away, containing 1 10 acres of farm land besides some meadows ; this plot lie accepted. Nangi met him there and ratified the cession by giving him four strings of wampum, at the same time making a long and eloquent speech of wel- come. Finally, Denke dedicated this spot to the service of the Lord in a fervent prayer. On August 2, Bro. Schnall arrived from Fairfield to see how Denke was faring. On the evening of August 3, while they were preparing their beds on the floor, a ■spark from the lamp fell into a cask containging 40 pounds of powder, which stood in the fire place, and a frightful explosion ensued. The beams and rafters be- gan to fall, and presently everything was in flames. The occupants of the room were Denke and Schnall who were sitting at the table ; near them stood the eld- est daughter (Mrs. Graverod) and the eldest son (Bern- hard) of Mrs. Harsen ; and a young boy who worked on the farm was sleeping on the floor. Bro. Schnall was very badly burnt all over his head and along his entire right side. He was the first to rush out of the house; but hearing the screams of Mrs. Graverod, he hurried in again and found that her clothing was on fire ; in extinguishing her blazing clothes and dragging her from the house he burnt himself still more. Bernhard was also badly burnt ; both he and his sister were hurt internally, besides inhaling the flames. The sleeping boy was badly but not seriously hurt. Mrs. Harsen and another daughter had already retired and, though greatly terrified, were uninjured. Denke was somewhat pro- the head chiefs. At stated intervals councils were held to recall the stipu- lations indicated by them. They were in the custody of the head chief, and really constituted the archives of the tribe. II tected by the wall of the fireplace, so that his injuries were less serious. His hair and the left side of his face were severely burnt. The house was in ruins, the roof was ready to fall in, and the flames were burning fiercely. Denke and two workmen soon extinguished the fire, and then helped Mrs. Harsen and her daughter to leave their rqoms. He found his manuscripts, &c., lying outside of the house quite well preserved. Bro. Schnall mean- while made his way to the barn and lay down on the straw. Soon his face began to swell so much that he was entirely blind and remained so for the next 36 hours. By mid- night he was suffering from a high fever. The Indians applied various remedies, but they afforded no relief. On the morning of the fourth Mrs. Graverod and Bern- hard suffered intensely. Bro. Denke, though in much pain on account of his own injuries, was in constant at- tendance upon the sick, comforting and praying with them. During the day both Mrs. Graverod and Bern- hard were released by death from their great sufferings. Shortly before their departure they both declared that they loved the Savior and were ready to die ; Bro. Denke also gave Mrs. Graverod the Holy Communion. She was a widow and left four small children to mourn her loss. Bernhard was 27 years old and was able to converse in several of the Indian dialects. The next day Bro. Denke kept the double funeral, in spite of his wounds. The previous evening Bro. Schnall had been transported on a sledge to the house of Mr. and Mrs. Grosbeck, poor French peasants who had offered to pro- vide accommodations for the invalid. There he was most devotedly cared for by Bro. Denke and Mrs. Gros- beck. (She gave up the best room in the house to her guests and with several children lived in the kitchen.) The wrappings about the festering sores on his head and face had to be renewed very frequently, and thus 12 the presence of either of these attendants was required day and night. On the seventh of August, Dr. Brown of Detroit was sent for, who gave Httle hopes of recovery. Fever soon set in and on the ninth it looked as if the suf- ferer would not survive. But on the tenth, he began to improve ; three days later, Bro. Oppelt and four Indians arrived in a canoe from Fairfield ; on the fifteenth all set out on their return, Bro. Schnall reclining on some bed- ding which Mr. Dolson had sent along.^ One night was spent in the canoe, Denke and Oppelt with the Indians sleeping about the camp fire on the land. The next day they reached Mr. Matthew Dolson's home who took Schnall and Denke to Fairfield in his spring wagon two- days later. Part of the road led over an Indian trail where Bro. Denke had to cut down the trees before the wagon could proceed. During all these trying experi- ences, Bro. Denke nobly made light of his own injuries, and devoted himself entirely to the sick and dying. He was untiring in his efforts to minister to their spiritual and physical needs, until his own strength well nigh broke down under the strain. He showed greater heroism during these days than he displayed during all his subsequent labors among the Chippewas. Denke returned to his post on September ii, and found that during his absence some white settlers had persuaded the Indians that the sickness then prevailing was due to the presence of the new teacher among" them. Nangi, however, met these charges with the de- mand for an explanation of the fact that the whites were more seriously ill than the Indians. The whites also claimed the island as their property, so that Denke had ' There were two persons of this name, viz., John Dolson who lived 24- miles, and Matthew Dolson, who lived 34 miles from Fairfield. Here Denke probably refers to the latter. They were kind friends of our missionaries to- whose comfort they ministered on many occasions. Zeisberger always, visited them when he was in that part of Canada. 13 eventually to build his house on the original site at Pointe du Chene. On October 5, with the help of Mrs. Har- sen's sons, he put up a house fourteen feet square ; on the fourteenth, he secured the help of a carpenter, and by the twenty-seventh his log hut was finished and plas- tered on the inside. On October 28 he went to Fair- field for his personal belongings ; these Mr. Dolson transported to lake St. Clair in one of his vessels which left Fairfield on November 3 and reached its destination on November 9. Bro. Denke was now taken sick with a low fever, so that his household goods could not be put in place until the 27th. During this winter he spent his time in translating portions of the New Testament into Chippewa, which he could now speak somewhat fluently. Already on December 9 he had an opportunity of read- ing his translation of the crucifixion of Christ to a visiting Indian, who easily understood it, and seemed much im- pressed by the narrative. On December 20 he built a log stable, 7 by 14 feet, for a cow which he had purchased from Mr. Grosbeck. He was visited frequently by Indians who passed that way, all of whom without exception listened attentively to the story of a loving Savior who had suf- fered death for their sakes. Yet Denke felt his isolation greatly. Wolves, foxes and wildcats prowled about his hut every night, and frequently heavy storms threatened to blow down his temporary home. For a time he kept school for Mrs. Harsen's children, but soon this ceased, for they lived a mile away and were kept at home by the heavy snowstorms. The visiting Indians were always hungry, and it seemed impossible to satisfy their crav- ings. Whenever they had anything to eat, they ate all day. To gain their confidence Denke had to consent to take his meals with them whenever they had been suc- cessful in their hunting expeditions, and to accept with- out misgivings the food they offered him, even if it was the meat of muskrats, dogs, hawks or owls. 14 He spent all his spare time in studying the language, and in compiling a Chippewa spelling book (which he printed at his own expense), besides translating into both Delaware and Chippewa the three epistles of St. John,* many hymns and portions of Risler's historical narratives from the Old Testament. He embraced every opportunity of proclaiming the Gospel to the Indians who visited him, and endeavored partly by conversations with them, partly by reading the Scriptures and singing the hymns which he had translated, to convince them of the necessity of repentance. But his difficulties in- creased ; the Indians seemed impressed as long as he spoke to them, but soon after they were ready to listen as eagerly to their medicine-men, or to take part most zealously in the rain dances, harvest dances and other heathen ceremonies in which they delighted.' Nangi certainly kept his promise to forbid the sale of liquor to his people ; but the white traders persisted, in spite of the orders of the government and of Nangi to the contrary, in disposing of it to the Chippewas by secret and illegal methods. Finally, it was deemed advisable to seek another spot in the British territory which would be more suitable for a mission settlement. And so, on February ii, 1803, he left for Fairfield ; thenceforward he assisted the mission- aries there and at Petquotting in their labors among the Delawares. • Denke's translation of the Epistles of St. John into Delaware was. printed in 1818 for the American Bible Society in New York by D. Fan- shaw, printer. One page contained the translation into Delaware, on the opposite page appeared the English. There are 21 of these double pages in the book. ' Zeisberger often asserted that the only hope of converting an Indian depended on whether he listened attentively and afterwards retired to some secluded place to think over what he had heard. If he at once started on a hunting expedition with his companions, no permanent benefit resulted from the missionary's teachings. 15 On August 7, 1803, he was married at Lititz to Anna- Maria Heckedorn, a heroic woman, who for fifteen years; shared his missionary labors and trials." On their return to Fairfield, they informed the brethren that the authorities; at Bethlehem had consented that another attempt to establish a mission among the Chippewas should be made- during the winter. But Denke and Schnall were first to explore the Jonquakamick river for suitable locations. These two brethren started on their journey along the Jonquakamick on January 1 3, 1 804. The report of this journey has the following introductory explanation : "After our dear Lord and Savior according to his gra- cious will, through the Helpers' Conference, had pointed out the river Jonquakamick for a Chippewa Mission establishment, and after the needed permission had been obtained from the Governor of Canada (for it lies in English territory), the mission conference at Fairfield had been requested to see that the further necessary- measures were consummated, for which in the first place an exploring expedition was necessary. The mission'- aries having assembled at Fairfield, January 11, 1804, determined that this could most conveniently be carried out now ; for on account of the severe cold, the mud of the marshes would be frozen and therefore passable. Ac^ cording to a resolution of the conference held the pre- vious autumn at Goshen in the presence of our dear Bro. Loskiel, three persons were to go on this expedition^, viz., the brethren Schnall, Denke and Rock ; but as the last named had not yet arrived among us, and as circum- stances prevented another brother from here from joining the company, the labor fell only on the brethren Schnall and Denke. The deep snow and the cold weather caused us to expect many hindrances and difficulties. The river '° She was born near York, Penna., October 20, 1782. Her parents were John Heckedorn, farmer and miller, and Catharine, m. n. Clewell. i6 is very long and it would have required many days' jour- ney to examine its entire length. But as Bro. Denke had often traveled from the Chippewa town west of Fair- field (named Kitigan) to the point where the river empties into Huron Strait (or Schneyecarte), he could give us the best information about the greatest portion of the river. Below the town of Kitigan the river is free from rapids; there are no inflowing creeks, but because the banks are very level, they are often overflowed by the river. Elevated land and good bottoms suitable for locating a village are not lacking. As the entire stream had been approved by the Lord in order that a mission settlement may be begun there, we believed that this part of the river should not be passed by without consulting the Lord about it. After earnest deliberation, then, this question was decided on, ' Have we anything to ask con- cerning the part of the river lying below the town named Kitigan?' with the previous understanding that if nothing was to be asked, we should remain along the upper part of the river. But if we have something to ask, then a second question should be put, viz., 'Should we examine only the upper part of the river ?' In childlike faith we laid this matter before the Lord, and we thank- fully accepted His decision that there was nothing to ask." The two brethren were accompanied by the Delaware converts, Daniel and Jonathan, and a Chippewa residing at Fairfield, and after a tiresome march they reached their destination on the afternoon of January 13. The snow was removed from the ground to make room for the tent, beds of bark were prepared, and a fire was started; yet, although they put on dry clothing and kept up a good fire, they passed a cold and almost sleepless night. The next day after breakfast they commenced selecting sites for a village along the upper portion of 17 the river. The spot where they had camped seemed favorable for this purpose, for there was a high bank and good bottom land, and inland an abundance of building timber, besides a number of sugar maple trees. But as it was only three miles from a town, and as the wild In- dians never fence in their fields, this site would be at- tended with bad results for the Christian Indians, and the cattle would be insecure. But one mile above the camp (and four miles from the town) they found a good location where they marked a white oak. It contained good bottom land near the river, and not far away, on an elevation, ground suitable for a settlement. Sugar maples abounded. The next site was on the West side of the river. The earth was of a black color and very rich, and it was frequently inundated when the river overflowed its banks. A creek separated the high ground from the bottom land, and the site seemed a favorable one, except towards the woods, where it was swampy and unsuitable for use as farm land. Some parts also, •especially near the hills, seemed to have a sandy soil, in that respect resembling Fairfield. This site was not marked. The next one lay on the East side of the Jon- quakamick, where the river banks were low, the adjacent ground was level and dry and covered plentifully with sugar maples. Here they marked a black oak. The absence of a creek flowing into the river was an objec- tion ; however, further inland a creek flowed in a ser- pentine course and through a broad valley into the river. In this valley there were small but rich patches of bottom land. Fields and gardens could also be laid out on the other side of the river. The creek might be used to drive a mill, and the town might be located on the elevated land near by. This third site was indicated by marking a sugar maple. An eighth of a mile further up the stream they found a fourth site, where they marked i8 a red beech. In the rear of the bottom land ran a pretty creek, which (says the diarist) " probably contained spring- water, as it was not frozen over." The lowland was. covered with sugar maples, and here and there they found abandoned Indian sugar huts, which indicated that it had been a camping place for sugar-gatherers. The upland was good, though building timber was somewhat scanty. They then asked the Lord (by means of the lot) if they should examine the river further, with the under- standing, that if nothing was to be asked, they should consider that thus far they had acted in accordance with the Lord's will. The answer was "No." Then they commenced the return journey, camping for the night five miles from Fairfield. After the Indians of the company had built a good fire and prepared supper, they joined in singing from Bro. Schnall's hymn- book, which they had brought with them. The next day they reached Fairfield, and the same evening the mission conference (at Fairfield) heard their report. The first question was whether the unmarked site should be taken into consideration with the other sites. This the Lord disapproved. Then four papers were inscribed as fol- lows: I. a marked white oak, 2. a marked black oak, ,3. a marked sugar maple, and 4. a marked red beech. In full reliance on the Lord that he would designate the most suitable site for a Chippewa mission, one of these papers was drawn ; it was found to indicate the site marked by a sugar maple. This location was the most elevated and the dryest of all, and lay along a fine brook with low banks which would furnish good drinking water at all seasons of the year. By the trail it was fifteen miles from Fairfield, though the air line distance was much less. That the Lord had guided them in this matter was satisfactorily evidenced to them by the fact that a very wealthy Scotch nobleman had recently arrived in the 19 province with the intention of locating 500 families along- some remote river, so that they might, as it were, be cut off from other settlements. His agent during this winter selected for this purpose the lower part of the Jonquaka- mick river, the eastern shore of Huron strait, and the shore of Lake St. Clair, together with the prairies lying between the Thames and Huron strait. Therefore, had the mission- aries chosen another site for the mission than the one they selected, they would have come into too close prox- imity to the white settlements." Permission having been obtained from the Governor of Canada, Bro. Denke was appointed to confer with the Government surveyor, Mr. Iredell, concerning the measuring and surveying of the " The following letter, dated London, September 2, 1815, was written by Bro. Latrobe to Bro. Denke in reference to this undertaking, but nothing was done in the matter : This goes (I hope) by the Earl of Selkirk who is setting out for Montreal. His Lordship has a large tract of land belonging to him on Red river, which empties itself into the southernmost part of Hudson's bay. He has there established a colony of Scotchmen, called, if I remember right, Kitcannon, and wishes much that the Brethren would begin a mission among the Chippeway and other Indians who inhabit the neighboring country. I told his Lordship that about the year 1802 and 1803 you had been stationed among the Chippeways to learn their language, etc., but that afterwards that attempt had been given up for want of opportuni- ties. He observed that the Indian congregation would do best to come to Red river, and offered to give us 12 miles square or as much land as we could want for our settlement and the Indians' hunting grounds, if we would transfer either the whole or part of our establishment to that region where we would be quite safe from the encroachment of white people and rum-traders, and have opportunity of bringing the gospel to many heathen tribes, — Chippeways, Algonquins, etc. He thought you should make a reconnoitering journey to that part of the country, and as he is going thither by water through Lake Superior, he would take you and some Indian Brethren with him. I mention this scheme which, though most likely at present impracticable, is worthy consideration among those which you might form or your American Society might form, both for the extension of the mission and the dehverance of the Indian congregation from the bane- ful influence of their connection with the white people, especially the rum- • traders. Perhaps his Lordship will contrive to call and see you. He goes by New York, but means to spend the winter in Montreal and go in the spring to his establishment. 20 desired tract. Laborers were scarce, but the good friend of the missionaries, Mr. Dolson, gave them the use of some of his employes for this work. As soon as the ground was frozen, in the third week of December, Mr. Iredell commenced the survey, the ex- penses of which on the part of the missionaries were refunded by the Government. On April 13, 1804, Denke and his wife, with 19 Indians who carried their luggage, set out on foot for the new mission site. Sr. Denke walked the entire distance, and even carried a timid Indian woman across the largest swamp on her back. They reached their destination by sunset; and after supper Bro. Denke kept the usual evening meeting (speaking in Delaware), and dedicated that spot to the service of the Lord in prayer. The next day trees were felled for the house, land was cleared for a garden, and rude tables and benches were con- structed of walnut (which was very abundant). Two days later Bro. Schnall returned to Fairfield; on the same day the Indians put up a temporary shelter, for it was raining heavily. By the twenty-sixth they slept in their log hut, though it had as yet no doors, windows, fire- place or roof. These were all in place by May 5. The hut had only one room, which served as bedroom, kitchen and study. During the first week many Chippewas from the neighboring settlement of Kitigan visited them, but they took little interest in what Denke had to say to them. They appeared to fear the ridicule of the other Indians, who called converted Indians, tauntingly, "Sunday Indians." During the month of May four of Mrs. Har- sen's family arrived with the things Denke had stored with them two years before. For the present, food was sent to them at intervals from Fairfield. On Sunday, June 3, the first lovefeast was held; and on June 6, Denke made his first address in the Chippewa Ian 21 guage. The Indians at St. Clair sent a request to him to return there, but that was now impossible. The Chippewas were constantly passing the hut, but none re- mained long, and so Denke had to speak with them in- dividually as occasion offered ; yet occasionally he kept a meeting for them ; on one occasion 2 1 were present. During that summer Br. and Sr. Denke were often very sick with fever ; yet he was able to get in his corn, (which was only half a crop, by reason of the ravages of black and red squirrels,) as well as 22 bushels of potatoes. During January, 1805, Nangi wrote from St. Clair that he would soon move to the Jonquakamick ; but in Feb- ruary news came that he had died. He had begged the Frenchman who cared for him in his last moments to send for Bro. Denke ; but the Frenchman was a Cath- olic and would not accede to his request ; instead of this he performed the ceremonies usual among Catholics at such times. Nangi died, it is true, with a crucifix in his hand, but sorrowing over the absence of "his teacher." He had been a good friend to the missionaries, had often assisted them, and had been much impressed by Denke's talks with him, though he never gave any positive proofs of his conversion. Denke grieved over his death as if he had been a member of his own family. The missionaries were often compelled to witness In- dian bear dances, and on one occasion a witch tried to bring back the soul to a man who declared he had lost it. Denke used every such occasion to tell those who would listen to him of the love of God who was able to give them new and better souls. During that year (1805) he and his wife again had frequent attacks of fever, and few Chippewas passed near them. But in November they were delighted by a visit from Onagan, a friendly Tawa chief whom they had not seen for three years. During the fall and winter, several evil disposed Chip- 22 pewas threatened them with death because (as they said) the teacher had stolen their lands from them ; and several plots of this nature almost succeeded. In December, too, rumors reached them that the Chippewas, instigated by the French whites of St. Clair, would drive the mission- aries away. These whites could not forgive Denke for hindering them so much in their liquor traffic. During March, 1 806, the orgies of the drunken Chippewas were worse than any which they had previously witnessed. An Indian named Siskiboa was especially hostile ; while in Denke' s house he listened attentively, and shook hands in a friendly manner when leaving ; but as soon as he reached his own people he railed against the missionaries in the most bloodthirsty manner. This he had done for more than a year. Onagan, being the oldest chief in the neighborhood, endeavored to win over these evil disposed Indians to the missionary's side ; so did Nabbawe, Onagan's son-in-law, but with little success. In May a great Chippewa council was held at Belltown, more than 30 miles distant, to consider whether they should surrender a Chippewa who had in some way harmed several of the Scotch settlers on Lord Selkirk's land ; it was finally resolved not to give him up. Bro. Denke was invited to be present at this council, but by advice of Capt. McKee he declined the invitation. In August, an addition, 14 by 9, was built to the house, so as to secure greater privacy for Sr. Denke. In Sep- tember, Siskiboa threatened to attack Denke because the mission cattle had trespassed on his land. He insti- gated many wicked Chippewas, men, women and chil- dren, to camp near the mission premises and to indulge in the most heathenish practices, keeping up their shout- ing, dancing and drumming for several days and nights. In December, Siskiboa spread the report that Denke had murdered Kajacki (who had been a good friend of the mis- 23 sionary) in May of that year. Siskiboa was considered a famous doctor ; and many of the Indians who knew that lie had caused the death of some Indians by giving them brandy containing the essences of poisonous roots and plants, suspected that Siskiboa had himself caused the death of Kajacki. The secret purpose of these perse- cutions was revealed after the missionaries had left the mission ; for Siskiboa immediately took possession of the mission house, garden, &c." In great sorrow and disap- pointment Denke had to confess that further attempts to labor there were fruitless ; and so he determined to re- turn to Fairfield. On December 12, he made a farewell address to the friendly Chippewas, Jacob, helper at Fair- field, acting as interpreter. The next day the entire Fairfield congregation came to transport the furniture, tooks, etc., to Fairfield ; on the fifteenth, with 14 horses, they fetched the corn, potatoes and other vegetables, which were all distributed among the Fairfield Indians. In January, 1807, Denke met the new Chippewa chief, Makongs by name, at St. Clair ; he disapproved •of the actions of Siskiboa and his followers, and said that he would favor another attempt to found a mission under liis own jurisdiction. Though he was hated on account of his severity, yet he was able keep his people under control. In spite of this fact, it was not considered ad- visable to act in accordance with his desires. Moreover, as it became evident that the Government would sooner or later sell that land to the white settlers, it was deemed best to abandon the enterprise altogether. Yet the attempts to establish this mission were not wholly with- out result ; for Bro. Denke's personal intercourse with the Indians caused many among them to turn to the Lord " In 1807, when John G. Cunow (from Bethlehem) and Charles Von iForestier (from Europe) were on a visitation to the Canada mission, they ■found Siskiboa still occupying the mission premises. 24 with true and earnest repentance, and by such converts his name was always held in grateful remembrance. In later years Bro. Abraham Luckenbach baptized some of the very Chippewas who had been taught by him. Most of Bro. Denke's difficulties and the subsequent abandonment of the mission may be traced to the prox- imity of the white settlers, and their very natural desire to have these reserved territories thrown open for pur- chase and settlement. Bro. Denke labored at Fairfield with Bro. Schnall till they were both driven out by the American troops in 1813. He gathered most of the fu- gitive Indians at Delaware-town, but in August, 181 5, returned with them to Fairfield, and established the set- tlement ever since called New Fairfield. In 1 818 he re- turned to Bethlehem; from 1820 to 1822 he labored as pastor at Hope, North Carolina; from 1822 to 1831 he was pastor at Friedberg, N. C, where he built a new church and parsonage, which was dedicated July 28, 1827. On March 31, 1828, his wife died, aged 45 years, 5 months and 11 days. On September 14 of the same year he was married to Maria Steiner, who had been a. teacher for 1 3 years at the Salem Female Academy ( 1 8 1 1 to 1820, and 1824 to 1828). '^ In 1831 he retired from active service, and spent the last years of his life at Salem, where he devoted himself assiduously to the prac- tical study of Botany, which had always been his favorite employment. He died at Salem, January 12, 1838, aged 62 years, 4 months and 4 days, leaving a widow but no children to mourn his departure. To the last day of his life he took great interest in the Canada mission ; but he never complained -about his apparent want of success there ; for he felt that the Lord had sustained him and had never forsaken him. He finally rested from his earthly labors, and his works do follow him. '3 Her parents were Abraham and Catharine Steiner. She was born at Bethabara, December 25, 1792, and died at Salem, November 27, 1868.